Psak 5768 Adar II 5
The Sanhedrin, being the authorized institution to decide in military matters, issues definitive moral guidance on this matter and addresses the current administration's defense policy. This ruling not only derides the government for failing to use internationally accepted means for battling a wartime enemy, but also raises concern about the possible use of security forces to manipulate public opinion.
Informal translation from Hebrew of the 5 Adar II, 5768 (12 March 2008) statement:
After the slaughter in the "Merkaz HaRav" rabbinical college [in Jerusalem], Concerning military retaliation
The Jews are not sheep, and they will not go like lambs to the butcher. The Jewish people will find the way to strike at their enemies. The Jewish people have tremendous patience in this matter.
Military reprisals are not disallowed [by law]. Indeed it is a legal consideration in any system of law. When a proper hearing is not possible [such as wartime situations, or where the combatants are not part of any legal system], reprisals are one of the principles of maintaining justice, and derive from the rights of man and his basic freedoms; there is not a legal system that does not recognize and define the legal limits of reprisals. [As our sages have said:] Great is the retribution that is given between the two names of G-d, as it is said "O L-rd, Thou G-d to whom vengeance belongeth, Thou G-d to whom vengeance belongeth, shine forth". (Psalms 94:1)
Insofar as the defense forces do not strive for justice from our enemies, they abandon the legal obligation of retaliation [against rouge combatants, or a state which has declared war against us] to others. In the same measure that the government of the Jewish State does not function as a government of the Jewish people, rather as a government that renounces [its rights] -- in exactly the same measure it abandons its responsibility to safeguard the Jewish people.
[Instead of the government invoking its right, it neutralizes any opposition by turning a well defined legal course of action into extremism.] The security establishment announces that there is incitement in the air. In every instance of terrorism, there is fear to take any retaliatory action, what is different today than yesterday?! Why does the security establishment see fit to send out warnings now more than during any other instance of terrorist mass murder?!
Just like the days that preceded the still unexplained assassination of Rabin, there were notices by the security establishment, apparently at the instigation of Prime Minister Rabin himself, through his agents (as determined by the government's own Shamgar inquiry), showing Rabin in the clothes of the Nazi S.S.
Also today, the representatives of the security establishment do not cease to talk, "As a dog that returns to his vomit, [so a fool repeats his folly]." (Proverbs 26:11). They return to flood the public's mind with "Rabbis who seek revenge", saying "these are instigators seeking to provoke a civil war". Thus people who are trying to follow Jewish law are divorced and stigmatized by the public, thrown outside public consensus. It is difficult to hide from the nagging thought that the reporters who publish these article in such language, are themselves working in cooperation, and perhaps as agents of [a politically motivated] security establishment.
We know with certainty that G-d will find a way to exact retribution in His own way and to its fullest extent, as it is written: "I am magnified and sanctified before the eyes of many nations". This [divine] retribution is more terrible than any terrorist attack. The Rabbis do not wipe clean the guilt of those who enable such destruction, the Israeli elite who chase after the Jewish people to make them their tool. Even if we do not lift a finger, there is no forgetfulness before G-d.
Those who ran away from Gaza, from Lebanon, and from the Temple Mount, and who today run away from Jerusalem; those who dishonor the name of God before the nations; those who portray Israel as a conquer of nations - it is these who bring upon us destruction. Those who bring murderers to our land to dwell here, deep will be their punishment.
May the students and teachers of the rabbinical college Merkaz HaRav, live and be blessed -- that did not warmly greet those who deal subversively with their murderers.
- PsyOps or Psychological Warfare Operations are units of the military designed to swing public opinion. Special agents known as 'provocateurs' are trained to blend in with the crowd, dress as civilians, and show up at carefully coordinated times with the camera crews to create a media 'happening'. Although rare, their use in Israel is documented: "This week the Israeli PsyOps division was reassembled after being largely dormant for five years." IDF reviving psychological warfare unit, by Amos Harel, Haaretz Correspondent, January 25, 2005. It is not clear that the manipulation of public opinion of civilians by security forces is considered illegal (as it is in many countries) or even unethical by secular Israeli law.